Three years have passed since Operation Cast Lead and the IDF says that the operational goals set in 2009 have been largely achieved.
Tuesday saw the IAF target an Islamic Jihad terror cell in Gaza, which Military Intelligence defined as a "ticking bomb" and top IDF officials told Ynet on Wednesday that Hamas knew a strike against the cell was unavoidable.
Hamas is changing, becoming somewhat more restrained, a senior source told Ynet.
Colonel Tal Hermoni, commander of the Gaza Division's South Brigade explained: "We took a calculate risk yesterday – even Hamas understood that this was a cell gearing to carry out a terror attack."
Colonel Tal Hermoni (Photo: Roee Idan)
As for the possibility that the IDF will launch another wide-scale ground campaign in Gaza – which IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen Benny Gantz said in the past was a viable option should an escalation be noted in the southern sector – Hermoni said that the IDF is ready to meet the challenge.
"The reality today is different than it was three years ago. Operation Cast Lead achieved its goals and the sector is relatively calmer today. The other side reacts (to strikes), but in a measured, calculated way. If the cracks noted in the lull widen we are ready to launch another operation, different and more diverse than Cast Lead, to renew deterrence.
"The decision really is in the other side's hands. If they don’t stop the rocket fire and prevent terror cells from leaving to Egypt so to cross into Israel, we'll launch a Gaza operation – and it will be a painful one."
As for Hamas' tactics against Israel, Hermoni said that "the tunnels allow (terrorists) to reach us faster. They're digging tunnels on a daily basis, but we are employing intelligence to locate them. They're also getting ready for more abduction attempts."
One of the biggest threats the IDF has to deal with in Gaza Strip is the growing use of anti-tank weapons, which the military said has been significantly reduced due to the successful use of the Windbreaker defense system – an active armored shield protection system installed on IDF tanks.
The IDF also noted that many of the terror groups' attempts to deploy explosives and roadside bombs along the Gaza security forces have failed.
The Gaza Division, Hermoni added, is constantly observing the actions of Hamas' "Rafah Brigade," which has some 2,000 combatants and its very own anti-tank warfare unit.
"They've become semi-military, even though they are still a terror group. They have reconnaissance and intelligence units and a defensive dogma based on Soviet doctrines," he said.
Gaza's terror groups, he added, "Aim to use attrition warfare, to destabilize Israel's international legitimacy and the home front.
"They train every day and hold various maneuvers, but naturally, the IDF's abilities surpass theirs," he concluded.
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